There can be several reasons why you may want to move a thermostat. Maybe you are moving into a new home, redecorating, or simply want to reposition your thermostat to get a more accurate sense of the room temperature.
Moving a thermostat can be a bit tricky, however, if you follow the proper steps, you can get through it without major hassle.
So in this guide, I’ll show you how to move a thermostat and what the best locations are. Let’s go!
Important Safety Notice: This guide provides general steps for relocating a thermostat. However, working with electrical systems can pose serious safety risks if not done correctly, including electrical shock or fire, damage to your equipment, and voiding of manufacturer warranties.
Always follow safety protocols and refer to your specific thermostat's manufacturer guidelines or user manual. If you're not experienced with electrical work, I strongly recommend hiring a licensed professional.
Also, remember that some local regulations may require work on electrical systems to be performed by a licensed professional, especially when it involves new wiring. Always consult local regulations before proceeding with such a project.
Proceed with these steps at your own risk.
Ideal Thermostat Location
Placing a thermostat anywhere won’t get you accurate temperature readings. So here’s a list of the most ideal locations to install your thermostat:
- Interior walls: Mount your thermostat on an interior wall to avoid external temperature influences.
- Near the center of the house: This helps to evenly distribute heating and cooling throughout your home.
- Above or near an air return vent: This ensures your thermostat receives accurate readings of your home's temperature.
- At eye level: Installing the thermostat around 5 feet from the floor allows for easy programming and reading. Also, if you have a person in a wheelchair, it’s recommended to install the thermostat at 4 feet high so it’s more accessible
- In Common Areas: Excluding the kitchen, the thermostat should be in a location where users frequent, such as the living room, hallways, (or in some cases) the master bedroom, where you can easily access it to make adjustments as needed.
Now, here’s a list of places you should avoid installing your thermostat:
- Exterior walls: Outside temperatures can seep into the indoors from an exterior wall, especially during summer and winter, causing false readings. Therefore, it’s a good idea to avoid exterior walls.
- Doors and windows: Drafts and direct sunlight can cause false thermostat readings.
- Direct sunlight: Sunlight can heat the thermostat and cause your AC to run more than necessary. So make sure it’s not facing a window, or door, or is right beside one.
- Behind doors or furniture: These obstacles can block airflow, leading to inaccurate temperature readings.
- Near incoming air vents or air supply registers: Direct airflow from your heating and cooling system may cause the thermostat to misread the room's temperature. So make sure your thermostat avoids getting blasted directly by an incoming supply register.
- Away from heat sources: Keep your thermostat away from appliances, electronics, and direct sunlight to prevent inaccurate readings.
- Above heating/cooling appliances: Radiant heat generated by appliances and electronics can lead to incorrect thermostat readings. If possible move the appliances or equipment out of the way instead of moving the thermostat.
- In a rarely used room: Avoid isolated or rarely occupied rooms (such as guest bedrooms, and storage areas) as they may not provide an accurate representation of your home's overall temperature.
Step-By-Step Guide On How to Move Your Thermostat
So now you know where to install the thermostat. In the following steps, I’ll show you how to move your thermostat.
Moving a thermostat may seem daunting, but with the right tools and approach, you can safely and efficiently relocate it to a more ideal spot in your home. You don’t need to have all these tools but I’ve created this list so it covers all possible scenarios.
- Philips Head Screwdriver
- (Optional) Flat Head screwdriver
- Smartphone (for taking a photo of the original wire configuration)
- Contraption to fish thermostat wires (small wire, insulation hanger, coat hanger, or string/chain)
- Clear tape and paper, or label maker (for labeling wires)
- Needle-nose Pliers
- Wire strippers
- Tape measure
- Splice connectors (as a precaution)
- Extra thermostat cable (In case you need to move the thermostats far away from the original location)
- Cutting tool (Dremel, oscillating multi-tool, keyhole saw, or hammer drill)
- Drilling accessories (spade bits, hole saws, and relevant drill bits)
- Appropriately-sized rawl plugs/wall plugs (for mounting on brick or cement walls)
- Stud finder
- Non-contact voltage tester (to make sure the power is off)
- Spirit Level tool (to ensure the thermostat mounting plate is level)
Step 1 – Turn the Power Off
- Begin by ensuring the safety of your workspace, and turn off the power to your thermostat.
- Locate the power supply to your HVAC system or your home's power supply and switch it off.
- Confirm that all components are no longer receiving power before proceeding.
- For added safety, consider turning off the main circuit breaker, guaranteeing a secure environment to interact with your thermostat.
- Once the power is off, double-check all connected equipment for signs of lingering electricity. You can use a non-contact voltage tester for this extra precaution.
- Never skip this step, as even minimal contact with electrical currents poses a risk when handling technology like thermostats.
When you're confident that the system is safe to touch, you're ready to move on to the next step in relocating your thermostat.
Step 2 – Uninstall the thermostat
Once the power is off, it's time to uninstall the thermostat.
- First, check for any screws in the display or panel. Make sure to check the top, sides, and underside of the faceplate.
- If you find any screws, grab a screwdriver and carefully unscrew the lid, then remove the interface from the back panel on the wall.
- If you don’t find any screws, try pulling the faceplate from the wall mount; it will usually loosen up.
- Handle the interface gently, as it's the heart of the thermostat system.
- To avoid confusion during reinstallation, snap a photo of the wiring layout
- If possible, label each wire.
- With these precautions in place, gently disconnect the wires from their terminals.
- Some thermostats may allow you to remove the wires using just your fingers, while others may require small pliers or Philip’s head screwdrivers.
Whichever method you choose, be gentle and methodical to avoid damaging the wiring.
Step 3 – Unscrew the Back Plate
- Once the wires are disconnected from the terminals, it's time to take off the back plate from the wall. Unscrew any fasteners.
- Carefully pull the plate away from the wall, making sure not to pinch the wires or drop them into the hole. You can tie them up together into a ball or onto a weight so they won’t fall back in.
- Then, proceed to remove the backplate entirely by pulling it out until it's completely separated from the wall.
With the back plate removed, you now have full access to the thermostat wires and can continue with moving the thermostat to your desired location.
Remember to keep track of the wires during this process, as you'll need to reconnect them properly in the new location for the thermostat to function correctly.
Step 4 – Chase the Wires or Connect New Thermostat Wires to the HVAC System
If you’re only moving the thermostat several feet around the original location:
- You can simply pull the thermostat wire/cable to see how much wiring is available. Most installers usually hide extra length of wire inside the hole just for situations like this.
- However, if your thermostat wire is short and feels taut when pulling, it’s very likely that they didn’t leave any extra length of wire.
- In this case, you might have to create a splice with a new thermostat wiring. Make sure the new wire is the correct type (such as the five-wire or six-wire, according to your system)
- Measure the exact amount of wire you need to splice and add in an extra few feet just to be safe.
- Use your wire strippers to remove the cable sheath and strip the wires on both ends. Make sure the exposed wiring is not too short or too long for the splices and thermostat contacts. (If they’re too long, the exposed wires might come into contact with another thermostat wire.
Setting Up New Thermostat Wires
- In this case, you might have to figure out how the thermostat wire strip is going to run from the new location of the thermostat to your furnace control board (or the control board in your HVAC system)
- After planning the route, make sure to connect the new thermostat wire to the furnace control board and measure the length of cable you may need. As always add in extra length for good measure.
- Then, cut in the thermostat cable and draw it from the furnace control board to where your new thermostat will be. This step might require you to drill through walls, hide the wires, reroute them through the attic, install cable tubing, conduits, etc. So unless you’re skilled at electrical DIY, this is best carried out by an electrician or HVAC specialist.
Step 5 – Drill Holes for the Wiring and Mounting Plate
After you’ve got the thermostat cable figured out, the next step is to create a new hole or cutout in the desired location.
- Carefully measure the dimensions of the wall mount or base plate from the old spot to ensure accurate placement of holes.
- Then start drilling the holes for the wall mount and the hole for the thermostat cable to poke out. As you drill, go slowly to prevent damage to any electrical wires or fixtures behind the wall.
- If you’re drilling into drywall, check behind the wall for studs, obstructions, or wires beforehand.
- If you're working with drywall, I recommend using a keyhole saw or slow drill speed to minimize risks.
- After drilling all the holes, fish out the thermostat wire from the hole and make sure it won’t fall back in
- Be mindful of any electrical components or fixtures that could interfere with the wire.
- Once the hole or cutout is ready, attach the thermostat mounting plate or base plate, ensuring it sits level on the wall.
Step 6 – Connect the Thermostat Wires
After fishing out the cable and connecting the base plate of the thermostat, reconnect the thermostat wires to the corresponding terminals.
- Make sure the contacts are clean and free of dust and debris.
- Check the photo you took of the previous wiring configuration to confirm the wires
- Don’t forget to strip the wires properly
- Make sure to avoid any pinched or damaged wires.
- Patch any holes drilled and replace insulation after completing the process.
Step 7 – Fit the Thermostat Back into the wall
With the wiring process complete, it’s time to install the thermostat’s faceplate onto the wall mount.
- First, engage the terminals within the thermostat's casing.
- After that, use a screwdriver to affix the faceplate firmly in place.
- With everything in position, restore power to the thermostat, either at the main supply or through your home's circuit breaker.
- Finally, switch on the thermostat and run a brief test to guarantee everything is functioning as it should.
Why Move Your Thermostat?
One of the main reasons to move a thermostat is for improved comfort and convenience.
A properly located thermostat allows you to easily access and adjust the temperature according to your needs.
In addition, an optimally placed thermostat can enhance its performance by accurately sensing the temperature, ensuring each room in your home is cooled or warmed evenly.
So relocating a thermostat could be necessary to avoid inaccurate readings due to its existing position.
Also, you might be doing some renovations and optimizing your home to be more “smart” and energy-efficient. In that case, learning to move the thermostat by yourself is a handy skill to have.
Depending on your requirements, moving a thermostat can be a simple 2-hour job or it can turn into a two-day DIY project. So if you’re not skilled in electrical work, this is best left to a professional.
Whatever the case, one thing you should always be mindful of is picking the right location for the new thermostat, making sure it’s more accessible and improves the accuracy of the temperature readings.
So make sure to follow these steps or drop us a comment if you have any questions.